Planners must avoid ‘suburbanisation’ of regional towns, Community is Key: Mike Day

Mike Day recommends six planning actions for councils, developers and planners to ensure regional township projects are embraced by the community

Planners must avoid ‘suburbanisation’ of regional towns, Community is Key: Mike Day
Planners must avoid ‘suburbanisation’ of regional towns, Community is Key: Mike Day

EXPERT OBSERVER

Mike Day recommends six planning actions for councils, developers and planners to ensure regional township projects are embraced by the community:

1. Councils could develop building codes and guidelines which reflect and respect their distinctive local settings. Mike says developers and planners should respect a town’s character by integrating complementary developments into the existing urban pattern rather than introducing conventional suburban subdivision patterns and built form.

2. Engage and consult early with the community. Local residents are inevitably ‘local experts’ that have travelled extensively. When they are involved early in the planning process they can provide feedback and advise the changes they want to see to create a town they are proud of and will love to continue calling home. Councils and planners can get meaningful input from the community through engaging with residents, Planning Design forums where the community and stakeholders explore solutions and design ideas through interactive workshops, and social media. By capturing residents’ feedback, designers and planners can ensure the community’s views are reflected in the design and development of any future projects.

3. Create jobs for the local community. Creation of mixed-use neighbourhoods or business hubs and Government projects will attract business and work opportunities for local residents. In Mike’s extensive experience on regional projects, he has found residents are very receptive to development plans that provide local jobs, particularly for the youth of a community, which invariably assists in addressing many social issues.

4. Reinforce and expand existing walkable neighbourhoods. Compact, mixed-use, walkable neighbourhoods provide opportunities for social connection and a reduced reliance on cars. With remote working becoming more popular, living in closer proximity to local amenities can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, and will also foster a stronger community and sense of belonging, particularly among new residents moving from major cities.

5. Provide housing diversity. Communities that combine single dwelling homes, townhouses, apartments, and specialised housing such as seniors housing integrated with the township, enables ageing in place and attracts residents of all ages and incomes. Regional communities are receptive to diverse housing options if they maintain the essence and unique character of their townships.

6. Maintain community engagement in perpetuity. Mike says councils, planners and developers must get feedback from the community at all stages of planning and development. Interactive mapping and community forums provide locals with the opportunity to voice their opinions and achieve built form outcomes they feel meet local needs. Mike highlights the importance of getting a true cross-section of the community, not just the vocal minority, through expressions of interest for community involvement. Ongoing community input on regional projects will ensure the critical attributes of the town is retained.

Mike Day is a partner at award-winning Australian urban planning and design practice Hatch RobertsDay

Tags: 
Community Council Developers Planners

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